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Foundations of competence-based vocational education and training

Several competence theories have been developed, and much competence research has been conducted during the last decades. Various competence solutions emerged at conceptual, strategic and operational level in the fields of corporate strategy, human resource management, education, training, and the development of personal effectiveness. Furthermore, the competence-based education philosophy has deeply entered the vocational education and training sector worldwide. Despite much criticism in certain countries, the competence-based vocational education and training (CBVET) philosophy has been attractive to many stakeholders in this field. This attractiveness can be easily explained, since CBVET addresses some perennial challenges in VET: the alignment with requirements of the labor market and entrepreneurship (including self-employment), the inclusion of applying knowledge and skills in practice, the hybridization of work and learning, the attention for the attitudinal dimension in professional identity, the focus on increased self-regulated learning, and the shift from final exams to portfolio development and formative and authentic assessment. Without the pretention of being exhaustive, this chapter, on the foundations of competence-based vocational education and training, gives a review of eight theoretical views on competence, which emphasize performance, self-determination, alignment, professional knowledge, shaping, effective instruction, capability, and human development. The chapter then reviews the current states of affairs regarding competence practices, characteristics of mature CBE systems, and discussions about definitions. The chapter is concluded with an outlook on competence for the future. Amongst all future-oriented competencies, learning competence remains most important. The development of all other competencies is depending on that.